Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 8:3 (September 2011), pp. 240–265.

doi: 10.1080/14791420.2011.594070


Copyright © 2011 National Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


After publishing a controversial essay on 9/11, Professor Ward Churchill’s scholarship and personal identity were subjected to a hostile public investigation. Evidence that Churchill had invented his American Indian identity created vehemence among many professors and tribal leaders who dismissed Churchill because he was not a “real Indian.” This essay examines the discourses of racial authenticity employed to distance Churchill from tribal communities and American Indian scholarship. Responses to Churchill’s academic and ethnic self-identification have retrenched a racialized definition of tribal identity defined by a narrow concept of blood. Employing what I term blood-speak, Churchill’s opponents harness a biological concept of race that functions as an instrument of exclusion and a barrier to coalitional politics.